An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me about Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

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An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me about Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me about Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything

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Chris narrates the audiobook, and he made his book sound like a story he was telling to a friend, riddled with emotional moments, as well as funny ones. From my Shuttle days, I knew that a dormant astronaut is an interesting sight, with both arms floating in front Frankenstein-style, hair fanned out like a mane and a facial expression of utter contentment. The fact that I’ve highlighted a lot of passages in Hadfield’s book — and taken the time to type them out here — says a lot about what I thought about his memoir.

While it’s true that you may wind up being ready for something that never happens, if the stakes are at all high, it’s worth it. He was Chief CAPCOM at NASA for twenty-five shuttle missions and served as Director of Operations for NASA in Star City, Russia, from 2001 to 2003; Chief of Robotics for the NASA Astronaut Office in Houston from 2003 to 2006; and Chief of International Space Station Operations for the NASA Astronaut Office from 2006 to 2008. Rehearsing for catastrophe has made me positive that I have the problem-solving skills to deal with tough situations and come out the other side smiling. The night before we launched, we gave ourselves an enema, followed , after a suitable interval, by another one. All liquids, including coffee and tea, come in pouches; most are powdered, and you simply add water, then sip through a straw.

You practice tricky, repetitive tasks as well as highly challenging ones to the point of exhaustion, and you’re away from home more than half the time. Afterward, a doctor took swabs of all parts of my body - behind my ears, my tongue, my crotch - to see if I had any infections, then rubbed me down with alcohol just in case I did.

It follows Chris Hadfield's career as an astronaut, but you can tell that if he never made that particular goal — if instead he stayed on as a skiing instructor, or became an airline pilot, or Something Else Entirely — he would have still written the same kind of book. It is about laying the groundwork for others' success, and then standing back and letting them shine. And as my vestibular system adapted during our day of downtime, I started to be able to look out the window for longer and longer periods of time.

Most of us won't ever get to go to space, but we can learn about it and get inspired to live on Earth by doing so. Hadfield most recently served as Commander of the International Space Station where, while conducting a record-setting number of scientific experiments and overseeing an emergency spacewalk, he gained worldwide acclaim for his breathtaking photographs and educational videos about life in space. Other anatomical changes associated with long-duration space flight are definitely negative: the immune system weakens, the heart shrinks because it doesn’t have to strain against gravity, eyesight tends to degrade, sometimes markedly (no one’s exactly sure why yet).



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